But committed himself.--This was His only form of revenge. As the Greek does not express the grammatical object of the verb, it is better not to supply one so definite as "Himself" or "His cause," rather, "but would leave it to Him that judgeth righteously." M. Renan (Antechrist, p. 117) says that this passage "requires it to be understood that the incident of Jesus praying for His murderers was not known by Peter;" and other critics have held the same view. But (1) St. Peter, as we have said, is speaking of what was the constant habit of Jesus, not of what He did on the day of His crucifixion only. (2) The word does not necessarily imply any act or word of direct appeal to God to judge between His murderers and Him; on the contrary, the leading thought is that of "passing the matter over" to God (comp. Romans 12:19), by simply refusing to take any action in self-defence. (3) It would have been unlike the usual method of the Epistles to make direct reference to any of the minor details of our Lord's history. (4) Such a reference here would be beyond the point, for St. Peter said nothing in 1 Peter 2:19 about praying for the bad masters, and here he is only justifying by Christ's example the position he had laid down there.
To him that judgeth righteously.--God is described in the aspect which is most reassuring to men who are suffering unjustly (2 Thessalonians 1:5). This looks back to that "consciousness of God" spoken of in 1 Peter 2:19. There is a curious various reading which is adopted by the Vulgate, though without any solid authority, and evidently a mere blunder, the interpretation of which we may leave to those who are committed to it: "He gave Himself over to him (or, to one) who judgeth unrighteously." St. Cyprian seems to have understood it of our Lord's voluntary self-surrender to Pilate.
When he suffered he threatened not; when he endured buffetings, and scourgings in his body, when the officers in the palace of the high priests spit in his face, buffeted him, and smote him with the palms of their hands, and bid him prophesy who smote him, all which were very provoking; yet he said not one word to them, much less threatened them with what he would do to them for such usage another day, when he would let them know, with vengeance, who it was that smote him; no, he took all patiently from them, and from Pilate, and the Roman soldiers, when scourged by them; he gave his back to the smiters, and his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; and when he suffered crucifixion, and was put to such distressing pains and agonies, he did not threaten his crucifiers with a future judgment, when he would take vengeance, and execute his wrath upon them, but prays to his Father for the forgiveness of their sins: and, as it follows,
but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously; he commended his Spirit, or soul, to God his Father, and committed his cause to him, to vindicate it in what way he should think fit, who he knew was the Judge of all the earth, that would do right; and so the Syriac version supplies it with "his judgment": which he left with God, the righteous Judge, to whom vengeance belongs; and which is an example, and an instruction to the saints to do so likewise; not to render railing for railing, or to seek revenge, but to leave their cause with their God, who will, in his own time, avenge the wrongs and injuries done them. The Vulgate Latin version reads, contrary to all the Greek copies, and other versions, "but delivered himself to him that judgeth unjustly"; the sense of which is, that Christ delivered himself into the hands of Pilate, who unjustly condemned him to death; but is neither the reading, nor sense of the text.